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29th July 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: Artistic expression is clearly more important to you than commercial success. How important is this to music? What does the act of creating music mean to you?
DAVIDE: Music is the most suitable way I found to express myself, not just as a musician but as a man. What it is worth knowing me for is probably in my notes. I'm extremely protective of my music, to the point of being ridiculous. To me, the most difficult moment in dealing with a new album is when it’s time to let it go and release it. I put so much of myself into my music that sometimes, when the album is available to the public, I feel out there too, ready to be dissected. Doing interviews is not that simple either. I think music doesn't need to be explained; unfortunately some questions demand that, and I have more than one trouble finding any words to add to my music. It feels like a used car salesman exercise that made feel empty. Some people are very good at it, I try my best, all the time, but I suck at it.
(Davide Tiso on the importance of music, for him, as a form of artistic and personal expression)
"Music is the most suitable way I found to express myself, not just as a musician but as a man. What it is worth knowing me for is probably in my notes."
Ephel Duath - promo shot
Interview by Jason Guest
Photograph copyright © 2012 Bonnie Rae Mills Photography
Official Ephel Duath Website:
Phormula (2000)
The Painter's Palette (2003)
Albums & EPs
Official Ephel Duath Facebook:
Thanks to Nathan T. Birk for offering and arranging the interview.
Pain Necessary to Know (2005)
Through My Dog's Eyes (2009)
Pain Remixes The Known (2007)
On Death and Cosmos (2012)
MD: Ephel Duath has featured a number of musicians, each with their own style that colours your work in their own way. What is it that you look for in the musicians that you want to work with?
DAVIDE: Respecting my music so much I try to set the bar pretty high for what concerns the other musicians I involve with Ephel Duath. When I approach other musicians, the song structures and all the guitar parts are usually already composed. Considering the challenging nature of Ephel Duath's music, and considering we are usually dealing with distant collaborations based on emails and phone calls, it is much more productive to work with pre-defined songs’ skeletons. To balance the fact that working this way I always finish to be the one leading the game, I try to give as much artistic freedom possible to each musician, and instead of being the one giving directions I let the music speak to them. Just when their creative flows don't naturally click with mine, I try to help sharing how I was picturing the other instruments while composing my guitars. When I choose a musician for ED I look for someone with already a specific style that I believe can meld well with what are my band's needs.
MD: What was it about Karyn Crisis's vocal style that you felt suited your material?
DAVIDE: There are some kind of voices that are like a slap in the face and some others that hit you directly in the stomach being that emotionally charged: Karyn's voice has both these qualities. I think her voice fits the ED music extremely well. Karyn's raw and cutting way of singing is able to bring the songs to higher emotional picks and I'm so pleased by how well our two different musical backgrounds collapsed together in this EP; that marks the first step in this new collaboration I'm absolutely thrilled about.
MD: Why did you want to work with Steve DiGiorgio and how did you get him involved?
DAVIDE: I wrote to Steve after I knew that Marco Minnemann was going to record the drums. I badly wanted this fantastic rhythmic section to become reality and somehow we made it happen. Steve and I quickly clicked both on a human and music level and working with him has been such an enriching experience. Steve is such a lovable person and a really raw talented musician, he worked his ass off to find his own way into my compositions and, while doing so, he managed to bring his absolutely unique style into my music.
MD: With Marco Minnemann - a phenomenal drummer - working with you again and Steve DiGiorgio on bass, did you have any idea that this rhythm section would be as successful as it is?
DAVIDE: Thanks to the big support offered by Agonia Records and with a big dose of stubbornness, this time around I was able to make the album I wanted with the team I wanted. Planning things right and way ahead of time we made the collaboration with Marco and Steve possible. Both these musicians have a pretty tight schedule, but their enthusiasm, professionalism and commitment to the project made the difference. They found the time and the energy to learn my songs, compose and record their parts, and they both did a wonderful job. I think it was about time these two great musicians finished playing together and yes, I never doubted that this rhythm section was going to be so successful!
MD: What did they bring to the writing and/or recording process? Did you find that they allowed you to express yourself in ways that working with other musicians may not have done?
DAVIDE: I believe that every musician that ever recorded for ED had the chance to shine with this band. Ephel Duath deals with a very adventurous kind of music, and it leaves a lot of room for experimenting with each and every instrument. The more the musicians involved are talented the more I will let them express themselves with absolute freedom. Marco Minnemann, Steve di Giorgio and Karyn Crisis are the greatest musicians that ever worked with ED and letting them shine I was able to reach new ways of expressing myself and to grab by the balls that very specific kind of feel I wanted to put in the music this time.
MD: Why did you choose to work with Erik Rutan? What did he bring to the recording of the EP?
DAVIDE: Choosing the supersonic ears of Erik Rutan behind the mix board was absolutely a winning idea and I have to say that I have never felt that connected with a producer before. Erik worked non-stop on this EP for weeks, and I found his work ethic to be, frankly, stunning. I consider Erik Rutan one of the key elements for ‘On Death and Cosmos’ successful result and collaborating with him has been one of the best musical experiences I had since I started this band. Erik becomes part of the band when he records an album: he suggests, criticises, cheers up and gets enthusiastic exactly like a band member. Erik is also an amazing musician; I believe Hate Eternal is one of the top three Death Metal bands out there today, and this factor gives him an even bigger understanding of many band dynamics. I chose Erik for his taste and for the very specific balance he's able to create among the instruments. I believe ODAC sounds heavier than everything we ever recorded and, at the same time, the EP sounds also pretty natural and dynamic as every ED release should; what a great result!
MD: What inspired the artwork? And how does it relate to the music and lyrics?
DAVIDE: I wanted the artwork to put in image the strong title chosen for the EP. There's nothing that symbolizes life as much a tree and, to me, a tree on fire is one of the most painful images to look at. To bring the image to a more desolate and dark spot I suggested to use a black star filled sky in the background, something that would give the vibe of some cosmos scenes in that masterpiece of a movie of Aronofsky that is ‘The Fountain’.
MD: Can you tell us about the artist and how you came to work with them?
DAVIDE: Dehn Sora is the artist we picked to take care of all the new Ephel Duath related art and I'm blown away by his poetic imagery. I didn't know his work before; this very young French artist was suggested to me by Filip of Agonia Records and we'll absolutely keep working with him in the future. The fact that Dehn Sora is also a big ED fan is making this collaboration even more exciting: he's working the extra mile for us and I'm so proud of what we are creating together. Having another very strong visual artist as a band member is also making a big difference! Karyn Crisis' art is absolutely outstanding, and she already worked on some pieces for the band: an official ‘On Death and Cosmos’ t-shirt on sale in our and Agonia's webstore, and a limited edition giclee print for the ‘On Death and Cosmos’ Exclusive Package Deal that the band is directly offering to the fans on facebook.com/ephelduathofficial.
MD: In a recent online interview, you said that you're quite far into writing a new album. What can we expect from it? Will it be an extension of what we've heard with the EP?
DAVIDE: We actually already started recording the new album! Marco Minnemann already completed 5 new songs and we expect to finish the drums for all the songs in few weeks. Everything is going extremely well so far. The songs are very long, even richer than the EP in terms of number of riffs. There's a lot going on in each composition, each of them has a very specific personality and a pretty wide range of emotions. I believe this will be the album that will summarize what ED did so far in their career, I'm so excited.
MD: Will you be touring in support of the EP or will that be after the album is completed?
DAVIDE: We will return to play live once the full length album I'm working on at the moment will be recorded, but just if we will be offered the necessary conditions to do some good shows. To compose music is a very intimate process for me, vital I would say: I don't do it for passion, I do it because I have to. To bring Ephel Duath live usually means to lose a lot of the artistic side of things, and having to deal with just the practical, and worse, side of music: promoters that don't pay the fees, shows with lack of promotions, badly planned tours, a lot and a lot of expenses. I'm not interested in repeating that kind of experience once again. Returning to deal full time on Ephel Duath I promised myself to not accept any more compromises and to take decisions solely based on the band's benefit. To play live in horrible conditions will not be an option for this band anymore.
MD: Again, thanks for taking time out for this interview. I look forward to hearing the album and hopefully seeing Ephel Duath live.
DAVIDE: Thanks for your questions and for giving voice to ED on Metal Discovery, we really appreciate it. Talk soon, Davide.
Rephormula (2002)